Upton Park market fears loss of storage compound after fire

A parking and storage compound used by traders at Queen’s Market is under threat from Newham Council who describe it as “a magnet for crime.”

The council’s plans came to light two days after firefighters were called to a blaze in the compound where stallholders park vehicles by day and store stock in containers by night.

The fire was brought under control during the early hours of the morning on Wednesday February 2 and, while no one was harmed, machines used to clean the market were seriously damaged.

Sasha Laurel, Chair of Queen’s Market, said: “The compound is the engine-room of the market; not glamourous, most people don’t give it a second thought.

“But it provides essential storage and parking and the life of the market depends on it.”

But Newham Council say the compound cannot be secured from entry by unauthorised people and this makes the site a breeding ground for anti-social behaviour (ASB).

A Newham Council spokesperson said: “The council is committed to the continued growth of Queens Market. The Traders are its lifeblood.

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“We understand the importance of a compound for traders but the current one is a magnet for crime and ASB. This is utterly unnacceptable.

“We are therefore reviewing the current arrangements and we will be discussing the situation at an upcoming meeting of the Queens Market consultative group.

“The council, in partnership with police, will continue to conduct regular enforcement raids to ensure the area is safe and successful, both for traders and shoppers.

“We have a zero tolerance appoach to crime and ASB in Newham and we are extremely proactive in enforcing this.”

Saif Osmani, Friends of Queen’s Market spokesman, responded: “Crime, theft, prostitution - the council and developers always paint the market area as a crime hotspot.

“But the police say there is no more or less crime here than anywhere else in Newham and the Government Inspector accepted that at his inquiry.

“The compound must stay so that traders have accessible parking and storage.”